How is Hoarding Disorder Treated?

Hoarding disorder can be difficult to treat for a variety of reasons, and researchers and clinicians are still seeking the best options for successful treatment.  While no singular “gold standard” or “evidence-based” treatment exists for HD, there are a variety of treatment options that have proven to be helpful.  Often people find the most benefit from using a combination of the types of treatment described below, though different people will respond to different methods.

Treatment

Description

Goal

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Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a technique that seeks to increase the individual’s motivation to make positive change(s) in their behavior.

MI increases motivation by helping the individual connect their values and goals with their behaviors, and brainstorming ways to change behaviors that are not in line with their values and goals.

To increase the individual’s motivation to engage in treatment and participate in their own recovery. Read Expert Opinion (coming soon!)

Skills Training

People with HD usually have problems with organizing, problem solving, and making decisions.

Skills training for HD focuses on helping people learn (1) how to organize their belongings within their homes, (2) how to use problem solving methods to address common problems that arise in working on their clutter, and (3) how to make decisions about keeping needed items and removing unwanted objects that contribute to clutter.

To teach the individual skills that will be useful to them in their recovery. Read Expert Opinion (coming soon!)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals to examine the way they think and behave, and to change the thought processes or behaviors that may be problematic.

The specific CBT elements involved in HD treatment include restricting acquiring, practicing sorting and discarding, and cognitive restructuring to challenge thoughts and beliefs about attachment to items.

To help the individual change the way they think and behave, specifically with regards to their hoarding disorder. Read Expert Opinion (coming soon!)

Support Groups

Support groups can either be professionally-led (e.g. by a therapist) or peer-led.  For both, the groups will consist of other people who live with hoarding issues who meet on a regular basis to give and receive support.

Some support groups follow a CBT format and focus on actively working on each of the elements outlined in the CBT approach.

To connect the individuals to others who understand what they are going through in a shame-free environment.

Some support groups are also treatment groups that offer a structured learning approach to making and achieving goals to recover from HD.

Read Expert Opinion (coming soon!)

Medication

Psychiatric medications work to change an individual’s brain chemistry and activity.  For many mental health conditions, including HD, the symptoms are hypothesized to be due to brain chemistry problems and/or certain areas of the brain not working as they should. To help the individual be more able to engage in the treatment process, whether by improving their mood or by reducing their severe anxiety. Read Expert Opinion (coming soon!)